Promoting WHOI Leadership in the International Arctic Observing Network
Phase 1 : Engineering and field testing bio-optical sensors on the Ice-Tethered Profiler (ITP) and facilitating ITP deployments in the Transpolar Drift


Arctic Research Initiative
2007 Funded Project


Evidence is mounting that a complex suite of significant, interrelated, atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial changes are now underway in the Arctic, affecting every part of the Arctic environment and having increasing repercussions on society. However, observations to quantify these changes and assess cause are scarce. To address part of this measurement gap, WHOI investigators developed the Ice- Tethered Profiler (ITP), an autonomous instrument that currently can return daily temperature and salinity profiles to ~800 m depth below a drifting ice floe for a three year period. Our vision for the future is of a sustained array of WHOI ITPs spanning the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, sampling a variety of physical oceanographic and ecosystem-relevant parameters and telemetering those data to researchers, students and the general public in real time. The present proposal seeks support for two activities in conjunction with on-going ITP programs funded by the National Science Foundation. First we propose to engineer, construct and deploy one ITP instrument that is equipped with additional sensors to sample biologically relevant fields. In addition to serving as a proof of concept that we may use to buttress proposals for future deployments of enhanced ITPs, data from the prototype instrument should yield insight into the timing of the onset of biological production in spring, the association of water column hydrographic structure with standing stock and particle concentration, the association of light level and the development of phytoplankton standing stock during the spring, and the net community production from integrated water column dissolved oxygen. Second, we request supplemental funding to allow us to participate on a cruise of the Russian icebreaker Akademic Fedorov in summer 2007 during which up to three separately funded conventional ITP systems will be deployed. The Fedorov cruise will provide us with access to the upstream source region of the Arctic icepack Transpolar Drift near Vrangle Island. Historical ice drift records indicate that ITPs deployed in that area will occupy a section extending north across the pole area and then south to Fram Strait. These remarkable observations may be compared to historical sections collected by major icebreaker expeditions in the last 20 years to quantify decadal timescale changes in the Arctic upper ocean water properties. The proposed program is consistent with the goals of the WHOI Arctic Initiative. Specifically, the direct observations of changes in ocean physical, and biologically relevant fields will lead to a better understanding of regional and global effects of Arctic circulation and climate, and will help establish WHOI as a leader of the international Arctic Observing Network program during the International Polar Year.